February 29, 2004

My Challenge

Can anybody name one good thing the IMPACT system has done for this campus?

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 03:03 PM | TrackBack

Programming Languages

How to Shoot Yourself in the Foot

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:43 PM | TrackBack

Ethics, Part 2

It is interesting that after taking this little trip through the contemplation of ethics and everyone having a weak point in their ethical structure by which these strictures can be overruled, the sermon at church this morning seemed to have great application in that direction. The sermon was over the temptation of Jesus, using Luke 4:1-13 as the principal text.

Essentially, mulling this all over, I've come to the conclusion that while some combaination of power, fear and material will overcome just about anyone's ethics, we are called to a higher standard and Christ sets an example for us to follow. Granted, this is not an easy one and I pray for grace never to be put in a place where the buying price of my ethics is set before me. But should that day come, I hope that I have someone around to beat me before I take the money and do that which I should know better than to do.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:31 PM | TrackBack

Comparative Ethics

When I sit down and think about all of the experiences I've had in general and in specific interactions with individuals, my cynical perspective returns to this: "everyone's ethics are for sale, at the right price."

It's kind of like real estate in a tourist town. For the right price, this too can be yours. Granted, sometimes it's not all about dollars and cents and sometimes you have to be willing to throw something odd in to sweeten the pot like a trip in a new car or access to some power, but I would contend that just about everyone has his or her price.

Now, the redeeming thing about this is that most of our prices are fairly high, and God has been faithful to keep us from harm's way and prevent those circumstances which would surely buy our ethics from crossing our paths until after His work has carried through to the point that we are much less vulnerable, but that doesn't mean the tenet is wrong.

In short, I guess what I'm trying to get at is to wonder aloud what exactly my price is and if thinking about that can make me a bit better prepared if temptation should arise. Not that I want to glorify sin and revel in the fact that every "good Christian" has his or her own proverbial '30 pieces of silver', but rather to encourage thought about what your own buying price is, why it is that way, and what you could do to reconcile the worth of your relationship with God to that price.

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February 28, 2004

Bad Way to Go

How would you like to get fired by text message?

Sucks to work for KEB Credit.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 07:22 PM | TrackBack

February 27, 2004

Long Week

Wow... I think I need to set aside a bit more time for posting. Sorry all, but I'll try and get up a comment about today's awesome chapel a bit later.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 04:13 PM | TrackBack

February 26, 2004


So yesterday, we got to hear from Eric Buehrer, a guest speaker who is apparently the president of Gateways to Better Education. His organization exists to further the teaching of Judeo-Christian beliefs and values in the public arena, especially public schools. Incidentally, before I get into a criticism of his talk, I will note two things:
1) Dr. Jimmy Ames (the education prof who introduced Mr. Buehrer) put the entire audience to sleep in the 30 second introduction and thus things got off to a rough start with a cold crowd.
2) Apparently Eric Buehrer is on a first name basis with Mel Gibson, with whom he watched The Passion about a month ago. We gather this from "I saw [The Passion] about a month ago. Me and Mel... Mel was there. Me and about 500 other pastors."

His reasons why Christianity could and should be taught broke down into four arguments, namely: Christiantity is culturally appropriate, academically legitimate, legally permitted, and morally imperative. While I would agree with all of these points and agree that Christianity can and should be taught in the public schools, his support was absolutely abysmal.

Before I can even get to his main arguments, we have the problem of dealing with his absolutely awful prelimilary remarks and straw men. At the beginning, he spoke of a stupid argument about the words "Under God" being in the Pledge of Allegiance and noted that they weren't in the original and discredited arguments for returning to the original by saying "it took 50 years to get it right." After this, he moved to an example where a teacher re-wrote a class production of The Sound of Music without mention of nuns and a abbey in order to take religion out of it and how a parent successfully fought her on that. Another example is a child being forced to wash a cross off of her hand that she had drawn on it so that she wouldn't upset other students. Can we say "straw men?"

Here are his arguments, in chronological order, organized under the categories in which Buehrer placed them:

Christianity is Culturally Relevant
First, we have our suspect statistics:
"85% of Americans claim Christianity?"
"40-44% of Americans attend church in a given week"
"61% of African-Americans describe themselves as attending church weekly"
"39% of Americans referred to themeselves as 'committed born-again Christians'"
And then we have a reference to a Newsweek article:
(date 7/16/2001) - Newsweek "Christian music is now the hottest genre in the entire music industry"
The article also mentioned Left Behind, Veggie Tales as selling well and having cultural significance. And from that, he drew this conclusion and moved on:
"It is reasonable that American schools teach American students about american culture and Christianity is deeply-rooted in American culture."

Christianity is Academically Legitimate
Here we started out with another straw man of a teacher agreeing to allow a student to do a report and presentation on Psalm 23 but refusing to allow the student to read Psalm 23 in his presentation.
He branched from this to the legality, noting that the Department of Education has given students the right to incorporate their faith into their schoolwork.
After this, his only justification for reading the Bible alound (aside from when you've been allowed to do a report on a particular Biblical passage) is because it's a thing of "literary beauty."
From here he jumped to the Texas State curriculum and noted that religious awareness education is present in many different places in the curriculum and that it shouldn't be irrelevant in Texas schools in light of its educational standards (that's all well and good in a conservative state like TX, try NY for a different perspective.)
And finally, Buehrer noted that it is proper and allowable to present religious holidays in light of their historical and ongoing religious significance, such as with Easter and Christmas. Granted, this only works sometimes in more conservative settings, but it's something.

Christianity is Legally Permitted
Buehrer first noted that the 1963 case Abbington vs. Shemp invalidated the requirement of religious ceremony and reading in school. However, the courts explicitly stated that a study of the Bible was a academically legitimate one in the light of a study of comparative religions and in light of its historical impact. He then pointed out that even the ACLU noted that objective teaching of religious impact in schools. And that was essentially that

Christianity is Morally Imperative
Buehrer asserted that modern children are morally aimless due to a lack of religious roots. He then made the more or less syllogistic assertion that if people follow Christianity and stick to the morals it teaches, they will be moral.

If you look up and read the main talking points, you may wonder why this bothered me so much. And I can't even really give the man justice by typing the talk out. The fact is that I happen to have been in public school for 13 long years and nobody agrees that the place needs Christianity more than I. That said, there wasn't one of his arguments that I either couldn't find fault with or couldn't point out the obvious straw-man that he was using to build his case. It's people like this who bother me to no end because I look up at them and I see them destroying something that I find valuable by their ineptitude and inability to find real talent to do the job that they are botching. Thanks for another quality chapel!

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 05:24 PM | TrackBack

February 25, 2004

Note to Self

Stuff I need to do to bring this blog up to where I want it:
1) Fix the width issue (make the center column automatically size)

2) Update my links
note: links all updated (and I removed them from here because they were doing some funky stuff)

3) Import my old comments
4) Add a counter
5) Get new features

update: I'll be using this post as a scratch pad to keep notes of those things that I'm actually doing

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 08:08 PM | TrackBack

Tickets Fixed

Thank You GOD!!!

You see, there was this stupid college student. And he was on much crack and was ordering airline tickets to go home from Hotwire (yay, Hotwire!) and ended up doing something stupid and screwing things up. Suffice to say he wasn't paying a lot of attention until the tickets got ordered and then he realized he had screwed-up, nonrefundable tickets. And he cried...

But he wasn't a total moron, and he emailed hotwire within 2 or 3 minutes of this happening. And he emailed his parents. And fortunately, he called hotwire today and about 5 minutes ago, they fixed things. So now life is good and I'm not he isn't out $320 for a stupid mistake anymore.

Oh yeah, go buy your tickets from Hotwire. They rock.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 04:08 PM | TrackBack

February 24, 2004

Diet Microsoft?

Interesting stuff:
MS is talking about a strategy change
EU might force a change

Long story short, a new and different MS might be on the horizon.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 08:23 PM | TrackBack

February 23, 2004

Kwanzaa Bush!

There really is one out there. Look under the "Decorations" section to see how to make one for yourself.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:30 PM | TrackBack

February 22, 2004

Shady Politics

If anyone thinks small-town politics are screwed up, check this out.

I may have told some of you about good old Arnold Engel, but for those who I haven't, let me put it this way: if there was ever someone who created grief and aggravation for people who wanted to give kids a legitimate education, it would be this man. If there were ever someone who valued dollars and cents over education and would destroy the futures of hundreds of children to save a buck, it would be Arnie. If there is no individual man more hated by any educator who knows him, it would be Arnie.

The school district is asking for about $3 million to support growth and expansion in this next year. Arnold claims that this money is too much because the teachers are paid too much. So yeah... we should pay our teachers less, because that will give our kids a better education. Not to mention what a pittance teachers get in the first place. I will be posting more articles on this moron as I find them.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:54 PM | TrackBack

The Shaft

When you think you've got it bad, check out what happened to this hosting service.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 09:40 PM | TrackBack


"The LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him." Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name. So the man gave names to all the livestock, the birds of the air and all the beasts of the field. But for Adam no suitable helper was found. So the LORD God caused the man to fall into a deep sleep; and while he was sleeping, he took one of the man's ribs and closed up the place with flesh. Then the LORD God made a woman from the rib he had taken out of the man, and he brought her to the man."
Genesis 2:18-22 (NIV)

When I stop and think about it, I really am quite the extrovert. It's funny how whenever I am abruptly separated from the company of a large group of friends and have to console myself with my own company, I get very depressive. This passage above is probably one of my favorites in the Bible, not only because it explains my personality and outlook on life fairly well but also because of how God deals with this. Rather than leaving Adam alone to work it out by himself, God sends Adam some company. Now Adam has a friend whom God has designed specifically for Adam so that he can be supported and not be lonely.

So often, I guess I just take for granted that I always have friends around: people whom God has set aside to support me. And every now and again, it probably does me some good to be away from all of those people to get perspective. But I really am not all that crazy about being alone for long periods of time. Some of you will note how obsessive I am about not leaving people behind when we go to do stuff. As best as I can figure, this little compulsion of mine is best described by the fact that I hate being left behind. There are few feelings that upset me more than the feeling that my friends are doing something and I'm not involved.

All that to say is, go find a friend and have then enjoy the day with you tomorrow. Friends don't let friends get left out of fun.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:39 AM | TrackBack

February 21, 2004


I'm going there tonight with the crew. Commentary, criticism and possibly pictures will be forthcoming.

Update: Symphony was good, the food and fellowship that followed were great, and the company was excellent. More details anon.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 07:22 PM | TrackBack

February 20, 2004

The World Spins On

During the course of the week, I've accumulated the following newsworthy items. They range from the amusing to the absurd to the just plain screwed-up.

Sad News to Report: A man in Germany was jailed for 9 months for driving agressively on the Autobahn and causing a woman to drive recklessly and crash, resulting in her death.

In other news, this professor stepped down from his job in the aftermath of his making a flippant statement to prove a point and having a student call his bluff. Granted, he did offer an "A" to any student brazen enough to strip in class... and granted this was a conservative school, but I still think the action is a bit much.

And finally, PETA is trying convince the town of Slaughterville to change their name to Veggieville by bribing them with $20,000 of veggie burgers. In light of that offer, I would change my town's name to "Animal Execution"-ville.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 04:51 PM | TrackBack

February 19, 2004

The Mental Illness that Pays

One messed up Frenchman.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 04:38 PM | TrackBack


Typically, news of a new lawsuit annoys me and turns my stomach. However, this countersuit has me running around in circles screaming, "YES!"

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 03:31 PM | TrackBack

February 18, 2004

Great Video

Some guys at work found this wonderful video about what happens when you don't wear a seat belt and get in a wreck. For you LU people, it's probably blocked... but bypassing it (if you can) won't get you in trouble as there is no nudity and some IT guys were the ones who found it.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 08:33 PM | TrackBack

February 17, 2004

Emergency Baptism

I honestly wish this was a joke.

Emergency Baptism? It sounds like a procedure to avoid nuclear meltdown.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:56 PM | TrackBack

Best Science Fair Project EVER

I wish I was making this up. See this link and go down to the 2nd-place Middle School Level.

For those of you who are too lazy and don't want to go see the joy and bad science that is the "Creation Science Fair," here's the excerpted part that made me spray Mountain Dew all over my monitor:

2nd Place: "Women Were Designed For Homemaking"

Jonathan Goode (grade 7) applied findings from many fields of science to support his conclusion that God designed women for homemaking: physics shows that women have a lower center of gravity than men, making them more suited to carrying groceries and laundry baskets; biology shows that women were designed to carry un-born babies in their wombs and to feed born babies milk, making them the natural choice for child rearing; social sciences show that the wages for women workers are lower than for normal workers, meaning that they are unable to work as well and thus earn equal pay; and exegetics shows that God created Eve as a companion for Adam, not as a co-worker.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:59 PM | TrackBack

February 16, 2004

Praise and Worship Chapel

Yeah... so I missed out on chapel today... the chapel that seems to have everybody talking. So, as is my practice on this sort of thing, I went back to listen to the audio on the web.

Everybody else seems to have the main points covered, except this and I wanted to get the direct quotes that bothered me. For those of you who are double-checking, the fun begins at about 0:28:00. The passage at issue is James 5:13-16 and the part that of the service that I'm quoting (the italicized first part is fairly loosely quoted, but the voice and intent seem to stick true, at least to my mind... the part in block quotes is far more precise as it is the main issue of my criticism.)

"please come forward... there were lots of hands... let's come forward... let's be bold... come on... anybody who raised their hand come forward. Anybody who isn't a Christian, come forward. i wanna dare you to do something if you don't believe in christ, whether you want it or not. I dare you to come forward and receive prayer."

"I want every bold person in here who believes that God wants to do something big on this campus to come forward. Everybody... if you are bold and believe the words in this scripture, I want you to come forward and lay hands on these people. ...Not something you see in a Baptist church. And if you're still seated, I just ask that you would pray with us and agree with us in prayer... hold nothing back.

I recognize now and I'm here to say now, I know that God does not always heal anybody" ... "but to deny and never ask for healing and never do this would be to disobey that scripture that we just read. So we're going to pray in faith and believe in the healing of those who are lost, those who are hurting and those who are sick."

All I want to say is that regardless of your stance on the call to come forward, those are some pretty strong words and they seem at least slightly prejudicial against people who don't want to come forward. Oh yeah... and I'm going to have to come out and flat out disagree with the bolded part above and contend that while I respect Vinny... he did a quick yank out of context and some fairly bad exegetics with the text at hand.

Let me be clear here: I have nothing wrong with calling people who are sick forward to pray for them. While it might have been bizarre, I really don't even take issue with attempting to get the unsaved to come forward (granted, "I dare you" was a bit puerile... but God can use any situation.) My problem was with the tone applied to those who didn't come forward and the abusive exegetics on James 5:13-16.

To those who say, "God used that service for me." I am glad for you and I praise God for that. But I would point out that God can use anything and that doesn't exempt us from questioning and examining the practices of those who lead us in worship.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:20 PM | TrackBack

New Windows Hacks

Remember how the other day I was talking about how this Windows code leak was bad? Well, it didn't take long for someone to take the code and figure out a way to abuse Windows.

For those of you who don't speak tech, the simple explanation is that some programmers figured out a way to make Internet Explorer 5 run programs using specially designed images on web pages. What does this mean to you? If you happen to still be running IE5, UPGRADE!

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:00 PM | TrackBack

Fun Quotations

Apparently, I'm on the 8th page of Google searches for "fun quotations." I noticed this from checking our statistics and realizing that's one of the top search strings we're getting.

I guess now I just need to start that service up at a greater clip and a bit more regularity and I could start generating traffic from it. And by "generating traffic" I mean scamming the system... go me.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 01:35 AM | TrackBack

February 15, 2004

Valentine's Day

I really don't know what to say except that it was great, it's been a great weekend, and I love my girlfriend dearly.

She is wonderful in that she puts up with myself, my family and my friends and all of the obnoxious things that come along with that list. She drives me everywhere, listens to my nonsensical ranting and tolerates my cynical musings. Without her, I really couldn't have had such a great day yesterday and again today.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:07 PM | TrackBack

February 14, 2004

Hail the List

A good friend of minehas been working on a list of reasons why he won't be getting a wench any time soon. The list has capped out at 42 reasons and appears here just in time for Valentine's Day.

To that list, I must say that I generally agree. While I would point out that the benefits outweigh the downsides, I will also note that the downsides as depicted by Wilson are largely correct. Great insights old chap, I'll be glad to read them at your wedding reception some day.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 05:10 PM | TrackBack

Capitalistic Speculation

In light of this wonderful Valentine's Day, I would like to direct your attention here. No, not a suggestion or even a notion, more of a proposition: What do you think we could sell it for? Certainly enough to derail the DeBeers monopoly.

You know the best part, though? Any man who gave this to his woman would still have more demands to meet the next day.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 04:54 PM | TrackBack

February 13, 2004

Bad News for Windows Users

It appears that incomplete segments of Win2k and WinNT source have been leaked to the internet. In fact, if I read this correctly, Micro$oft even admitted that this is true.

If your eyes are glassing over at the sight of another technical post, let me spell out what this means to you. Bear in mind that there are already a LOT of known Windows insecurities which allow crafty hackers and programmers to write programs which bork Windows. Also bearing in mind that WinXP is about 95% just Win2k repackaged, this is kind of like releasing a large segment of the map to Fort Knox. Before, people just had to walk around the outside of the wall looking for cracks. Now, people can pore over the map and find them a whole lot easier and faster. This should be fun...

Update: Microsoft has issued a press release admitting that there is, in fact a leak. The BBC has an article, essentially noting that MS and the major players in Windows security are saying "wait until we see what's up." That said, this article off of Reuters is noting that there is 200+ megs each of Win2k and WinNT source. While that is under 5% of the code, that's still a lot of information.

Long story short, there are a couple of code segments out there. We're just not sure what all they entail. Give me another 24 hours and we'll they'll have more information on this

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 12:46 AM | TrackBack

February 12, 2004

Political Intrigue

Allegations appear headed for Kerry. Granted, right now these reports are coming from Drudge, who isn't exactly the most reputable newsman known to man... so we'll see how this turns out.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 03:35 PM | TrackBack

February 11, 2004

Disturbed Linkage

Best Auction Ever: Only on Ebay

update: Due to the auction's obvious non-compliance with Ebay Standards, it was taken down. If anyone has a static copy or a mirror, leave it in a comment

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 04:29 PM | TrackBack

Log Files

As I was perusing through the log files, I discovered that our most popular search string this month is "d". Just thought you'd like to know.

Others in the top 10:
"fun quotations"
"inflatable church"
"mono sick"
"formaldehyde dragon"
"best t shirts ever"
"dragon formaldehyde"
"jung typology"

And another that Jared should appreciate: we've had 4 hits this month on "rigoberta menchu pictures".

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 09:09 AM | TrackBack

Dr. J

Here's something that our resident Parliament Funkadelic fan will appreciate. And it'll probably disturb everyone else.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 08:13 AM | TrackBack

Have You?

Have you ever said anything so incredibly stupid that even as you closed your mouth, you realized that you hadn't wanted to say it? Even worse, you're not even sure why you said it except that now you're going to regret it? And what if it hurt the person you said it to and you didn't even mean to say it or even mean it in the first place?

How do you fix something that stupid?

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 01:22 AM | TrackBack

February 10, 2004

Fun News

Due to a need to sleep and a lack of time for fun posting at the moment, I bring you the latest from the Absurd Litigation Department.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:37 PM | TrackBack

February 09, 2004


Here's an editorial that articulates the problems that men have respecting women. I think it's well-done.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 02:47 PM | TrackBack

February 08, 2004

Things I've Been Hearing

"I'll pimp out anything that sells so long as I don't have to get involved."

"Don't criticize my words when I'm doing math."

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:49 PM | TrackBack

February 07, 2004

Yellow Jacket

Reading the Yellow Jacket is like a look into a formerly-successful company under new management. More specifically, it's like the management of an unsuccessful son who has taken over the family business in the great hopes of making his life a success but instead turns the business into a failure. In essence, the workers are good, the business has proven that it can succeed and a working system is in place.

Our story begins as new management institutes an effort to shake everything up and stimulate a new growth with a new vision. At first the old success holds on until, after much struggle, the spectre of change manages to shake free all remaining vestiges of the "old way" and replace them with reformed processes that are doomed to drive the company into the ground.

A look at the newest copy of the Yellow Jacket provides a wonderful place for the blame to rest: squarely on the shoulders of the editors. By far, the most glaring problems lie in "LeTourneau University Engineers Take 2nd Place at the International ASME Competition," as written by Chief Editor Maria Johnson and Assistant Editor Jil-Marie Williams. Even forgetting for a moment that this is the only article on the front page and that it is topped by a pixellated photo that should have been cropped, I will direct you to the text. The following excerpt is the opening paragraph, which I found indicative of the work as an entirety:

Competition is a very vigorous and time-consuming effort put out by all types of people in all different areas of life. Athletes compete in their specific sports for the glory and title and strive to be the best athlete. People in jobs compete with themselves as well as their co-workers to make the best career decisions and attempt to be the very best at whatever task they take upon themselves. So how does competition work when it comes to engineering, or more specifically, Mechanical Engineering?

And here is an excerpt which neither myself, my friends, nor my professors could make sense of.

However, only two out of the three members: Frank Dancer, a Senior who is majoring in Electrical Engineering, and Mike Montesinos, a Mechanical Engineering student who is also a Senior went to Washington D.C. on November 14-17 2003. Tagging along to this exciting competition was Dr. Roger Gonzalez, Ryan Decker, another Senior who is also majoring in Mechanical Engineering, would be competing in the BioMed Engineering Oral Speech competition.

In short, the publication still maintains enough high-caliber writers that hope can remain. The problem appears to be the cancerous management of Johnson and Williams that has taken the paper from a successful campus periodical to an intermittently-published hack job with quality reminiscent of kindergarten finger painting. Put simply: "Fix the management, fix the problem."

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 05:43 AM | TrackBack

February 06, 2004

Link Update

Well... I've been too long between updating Links. I really don't particularly care for my page layout and I'm sure I'm missing links. Volunteers to help with the former or suggestions for links that I should include, comment... please.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 12:30 AM | TrackBack

February 05, 2004


Dean With Fish

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 04:13 PM | TrackBack

Republicans and Democrats

A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don`t know where I am."

The woman replied, "Your are in a hot air balloon approximately 30 feet above the ground. You are between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude."

"You must be a republican," said the balloonist.

"I am," said replied the woman. "How did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I am still lost. Frankly, you`ve not been much help so far."

The woman below responded. "You must be a democrat."

"I am," replied the balloonist, "but how did you know?"

"Well," said the woman, "you don`t know where you are or
where you are going. You have risen to where you are due to a
large quantity of hot air. You made a promise, which you have no idea
how to keep, and you expect me to solve your problem. The fact is you
are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now,
somehow, it`s my fault."

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 03:44 PM | TrackBack

February 04, 2004

My Education (Part 1)

A consideration of my educational background grants me considerable insight into my formative years as well as my interactions with others and perspective on these interactions.

It must have been 2nd grade or so when I realized that I was being used to further the educations of others. In hindsight, I don't believe that this problem would have ever come to a head if it weren't for my perpetual boredom at school. You see, to my young mind, my perpetual boredom was a direct result of the teachers slowing down to accommodate the lazy students. To further this, now she wanted me to drag along those same students whose laziness and inattention had led to my boredom and the wasting of my time in the first place.

Granted, this simplistic understanding of mine failed to take into account the difference in scholastic capability between myself and others... but remember that I was a 2nd-grader. Besides this, the kids I was helping might not have been as "smart" as I was, but they were slacking so hard that some of the desks were outperforming them... thus negating any possibility of some sort of revelation and resultant compassion that I might have had for them.

And, as is the case with this sort of injustice in the mind of a child, I took my problem to my most trusted legal representative: my mother. I told mom in no uncertain terms that I was having no more of my time wasted by these hangers-on and that I was tired of doing nothing but tutor others in school. My mother took advantage of my simplistic and childish logic and turned the discussion into an evaluation of my lack of compassion and unwittingly started a debate that we've been having for 15 years. After all, she might have painted me into a corner that I couldn't have found my way out of at the time... but I had this nagging feeling that there was something wrong with her argument and eventually I figured out the problem, thus creating new arguments. And behold the argument of homogenous versus heterogeneous grouping and the underlying compassion or lack thereof present in the systems has kept us amused and sparring through my academic career... but I digress.

Being as that I was attending a 4th-rate school in a 3rd-rate district, this sort of nonsense kept up in droves. 3rd-grade was a lot like 2nd with the notable exception of a rudimentary attempt at dividing advanced English from remedial and likewise for math... thus causing me to only have to help bring up the rear guard in Science and History. This pattern continued through into 4th grade with a slight change in that advanced 4th-graders were combined with remedial 5th-graders, creating a 3rd group that was meant to accelerate people whose academic background was at least better than what we had in our grade and thus things bogged down a bit less frequently.

Midway through 4th grade, I moved to New York. This move facilitated an educational Renaissance whereupon I was transferred to one of the best public school systems I have ever seen and was given a teacher who really cared. I guess at this point I really ought to enumerate how Mount Healthy (old district) differed from Shenendehowa (new district.)

In Mount Healthy, there were 3 major demographics: Catholic families, elderly couples and families on welfare. This is a community on the edge of the incorporated district of Cincinnati and bears all of the markings of a once-affluent area that had since had almost all of the money move out or huddle into small pockets throughout the area. Thusly, most people either had no kids, had their kids in private school, or didn't care about their kids' education (generalizations, but statistically provable) and this caused the school's funding which came from property tax levees (voted on by the residents) to stay at the constant rate that it had been at since the 1970's. This lack of funding provided class sizes in the 30+ region in elementary school. Combine that with teachers who were extremely poorly paid, buildings built on governmental grants for experimental "open learning" (read: no walls between many classrooms) and 50% of the student populace from government-subsidized housing and anyone who could afford it getting their kids to private school and you have Mount Healthy.

This is getting long, so I will close this section with a comparative look at Shen. Put simply, there are exclusive private schools in many areas that are nowhere near as high-quality nor as elite as the upper-level classes at Shen. Even the "forgotten 50%" received far better treatment and educational provision than anyone I've seen in any other district. There were sports of every variety, classes for all manner of special interest, classes of 15-20 students, massive and expensive school buildings, specially-hired teachers' aides who did nothing but provide educational assistance and VERY well-paid teachers. Students and parents generally cared (if only to keep up appearances) and more than anything, were willing to pay the high taxes to ensure excellent education and high property values.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:58 PM | TrackBack

February 03, 2004

Background, Part 2

In order to get back to a proper understanding of my views on justice and situational ethics, I realized that I'm going to have to get back to my posting on my personal history. When I left off last time, I was attempting to construct a correlation between my personal history and developmental years and my cynical outlook on life.

Some introspective consideration of my status as an extrovert has lead me to believe that I have always been, at heart, an extrovert. Being an outgoing sort of chap, I was always running up to people and talking to them at the slightest provocation. But at some point, this trailed off. Further consideration has led me to believe that at some point I realized how silly and foolish I seemed to these older folks. It took some time, to be sure, but by the time I was entering Kindergarten I had already taken my leave of speaking to most adults and other children in favor of reading and keeping my thoughts to myself. Part of this may have been that I was always a strange child and something of a wool-gatherer and took verbal abuse for that or it might just have been that I was a bit advanced for the malicious and randomly abusive nature of young children. But whatever the case, I went through most of elementary school having those friends whom I had "accidentally" picked up along the way along with my books.

This notion of friends by accident made the move to New York simple in a lot of respects, especially in that I had never been all that close to most of my friends. I guess, in the way of elementary students, we had liked each other well enough but really lacked any understanding of the world. Thus, I had disposed of some friends and gained myself some free time to read and the two more or less cancelled each other out and left me feeling rather unbothered.

If you've never had the "wonderful" experience of public school, especially in those wonderful Junior High years, the only thing I can say is that... well... your skin isn't probably nearly as thick as mine became as a result of it. Before-hand, I was merely fairly certain that I hated people... afterwards it was like a religion to me. People became the most worthless, unreliable scum to walk the face of the earth. Some teachers were different, but I came to largely regard my peers as foolish ignoramuses whom I hated.

Let's not get this wrong, I had good times and good friends... but they were all of the age of development where they exhibited that occasional characteristic adolescent immature cruelty. And thus I had no reliable friends and trusted myself to nobody. Adults were a good deal more reliable, but I had faith that they were every bit as fallible.

Thus, it was after this incubation of disdain, loathing and cynicism for 4.5 years in New York that I returned to Ohio. I wish I could say that those were pleasant years... but they generally weren't. I counted few as my friend and I trusted fewer still. My books were my solace and my room was my respite. That sort of emptiness does all sorts of things to an individual's outlook on life and I'm still dealing with the aftermath and it's been nearly 7 years since I left New York.

So yeah... if I was to divide out my formative years, the period in New York gets a section all to itself and essentially this section is how everything went wrong. Don't worry... things try to fix themselves in the next section.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 09:10 PM | TrackBack

February 02, 2004

They Said It...

"There's a lot of food out there;
there are a lot of women too!" - Wilson

Moore: "Can we tell what [the orcs] are doing?"
Boothe: "They appear to be having a fertility ritual."

"My uncle is brilliant; he's like MacGuyver. He can take a toothpick and a paperclip and make a solar panel." - Anonymous Missionary

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 09:45 PM | TrackBack

February 01, 2004

Where I've Lived and Visited

Bold = Been To
Italics = Lived In

1) Alabama, 2) Alaska, 3) Arizona, 4) Arkansas, 5) California, 6) Colorado, 7) Connecticut, 8) Delaware, 9) Florida, 10) Georgia, 11) Hawaii, 12) Idaho, 13) Illinois, 14) Indiana, 15) Iowa, 16) Kansas, 17) Kentucky, 18) Louisiana, 19) Maine, 20) Maryland, 21) Massachusetts, 22) Michigan, 23) Minnesota, 24) Mississippi, 25) Missouri, 26) Montana, 27) Nebraska, 28) Nevada, 29) New Hampshire, 30) New Jersey, 31) New Mexico, 32) New York, 33) North Carolina, 34) North Dakota, 35) Ohio, 36) Oklahoma, 37) Oregon, 38) Pennsylvania, 39) Rhode Island, 40) South Carolina, 41) South Dakota, 42) Tennessee, 43) Texas, 44) Utah, 45) Vermont, 46) Virginia, 47) Washington, 48) West Virginia, 49) Wisconsin, 50) Wyoming, and 51) Washington, DC

Put more visually (places I've visited):

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 11:15 PM | TrackBack

The Good Guy

I've never been particularly partial to movies with a cliched ending and this holds doubly true for tales where the "Good Guy" always prevails. Movies like Swordfish, Boondock Saints and The Godfather appeal to the viewer to look beyond the simplistic morality tale of the black and white to a landscape covered in shades of grey.

Is it so easy to villify Vito Corleone as he refuses to kill men who raped a mortician's daughter and instead insists upon "carrying out justice" by maiming them as they maimed the young lady? What about Michael Corleone as he seeks vengeance for his father's murder and to kill a corrupt cop and a drug-running mob boss in the process? What about Connor and Murphy MacManus as they kill a criminalistic and murderous mob boss?

The real question boils down to this: "Is it so easy to place absolute justice in one definitive category and disqualify vigilantes and those who feel that the system in place is falling short of justice, if not failing outright?" Can vigilanteism be so easily villified in a world where courts have allowed the OJ debacle and others like it to play out.

Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 10:49 PM | TrackBack

Isn't This Ironic...

What Classic Movie Are You?

What Famous Leader Are You?
Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 09:58 PM | TrackBack

Personality Disorder Test

Personality Disorder Test Results
Paranoid |||||||||||||| 54%
Schizoid |||||||||||| 46%
Schizotypal |||||||||||| 46%
Antisocial |||||||||||||||| 66%
Borderline |||||| 22%
Histrionic |||||| 30%
Narcissistic |||||||||||| 50%
Avoidant |||| 18%
Dependent |||||| 22%
Obsessive-Compulsive |||||| 22%
Take Free Personality Disorder Test
Posted by Vengeful Cynic at 09:38 PM | TrackBack